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PUSD Surveys vs. Fundraiser

Original post made by PUSD Surveys vs. Fundraiser, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Mar 20, 2010

My neighbor went through the results of the surveys for all grade levels. Specifically for high school, it looks like the 7 day period was rated as very important, yet it was cancelled and no fundraising is planned for it.

It also looks like CSR in 9th grade was not as important as the administration says. The parents rating it significant and moderate are about the same percentage as those rating no impact or little impact.

So how does PUSD make the decision to keep certain programs and do fundraising for others? The letter received states the fundraising priorities are based on the surveys but it does not look that way when you look at the results.

For elementaries, Science and PE specialists were highly rated but Music (vocal) was not rated important at all (although Instrumental music was rated more important than the music specialist)

The programs funded through concessions as well as the fundraising priorities do not necessarily reflect the wishes of the community that took the surveys.

Why is that? Why did the district waste people's time and pretended to take into account the surveys?

Comments (20)

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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2010 at 10:51 am

"Almost 2000 parents of elementary school students responded to the survey. Nine of the top ten items parents identified as having a significant impact on their children's education are being supported either in current plans for next year's district budget, or in current fundraising. It seems like parent feedback is being taken into account quite effectively."

Web Link


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Posted by To a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2010 at 10:59 am

Not all of it reader. Go through the results. Yes, CSR in elementary was highly rated and is being funded. But music specialists were not rated as important yet they are also being funded.

CSR in 9th grade was not rated as important as the district says. Look at the results. Yet it is funded.

7 period was rated highly in the high schools, yet it was cut and not part of the fundraising effort.

No, the district only took into account parent wishes if it also happened to be what they were planning to do anyways.

Did you know that the district decided what to fund with the concessions before the surveys were even looked at?


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Posted by David
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm

PUSD is basically saying 'we will do whatever you want. As long as it is what the union wants too.'


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Posted by resident
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 22, 2010 at 8:33 am

It's not what parents are looking for or what students are looking for and perhaps not even what the individual teacher is looking for....it's what's mandated in the Union contract that drives the final decision. We need to look at Charter schools, private schools, vouchers, whatever it takes to lose the Union stronghold. The Union causes decisions to be made that are not necessarily in the best interest of everyone involved and certainly not in the best education interests of our children. However, until we have some alternatives and outspoken parents and teachers - we will never put the Union back into the perspective to which it was intended - ancient years ago. It has reared it's ugly head and we are all running scared.


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Posted by Just the facts
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 22, 2010 at 6:47 pm

The purpose of the surveys was to find out what the community would support in terms of fundraising after the concessions. The survey had nothing to do with any decsions the union or district made with regard to their negotioations. I was told by a PTA rep that the decision to fundraise for certain items came after a meeting where the district, PTA folks and principals met and had input after looking over the surveys and deciding what was most pressing for each level - elementary, middle and high school. I think they did their homework here. You need to understand that the surveys were not statistically significant - it looks like the 7th period is really importnat to a lot of folks if you take it from the survey at face value, but in reality less than 20% of students take advantage of it. You need to all the facts before you are so quick to judge...


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Posted by Facts, really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2010 at 7:23 pm

"the 7th period is really importnat to a lot of folks if you take it from the survey at face value, but in reality less than 20% of students take advantage of it. You need to all the facts before you are so quick to judge..."

That is a big number. It is bigger than the percentage of elementary school kids that use the elementary school counselors. And what about Barton? Very few kids use that program. And reading specialists? My kids never needed them, and neither did any of their friends.

So if we are looking at funding only what affects more than 20% of students, why are we funding elementary school counselors, the barton program, reading specialists? Ask the district for percentages, and you will see it is a minority who benefits from this.

And by the way, for the tech and libary specialists, the surveys did not support those programs strongly. Yet they were chosen to be funded through the fundraising CORE effort.

The surveys were a waste of time. PUSD had no intention to take them into account, as they already knew what they wanted to keep.

By the way, how many students does Casey's car allowance benefit? How many students benefit from having 2 part time directors of HR on top of the assistant superintendent of HR?


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2010 at 8:58 pm

"We need to look at Charter schools, private schools, vouchers, whatever it takes to lose the Union stronghold. "

Time to get back to reality

Parents move to Pleasanton specifically for the good schools. The last thing on their minds is vouchers or private schools.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm

"My kids never needed them, and neither did any of their friends."

I wonder how that fact makes it a valid reason for the district to get rid of reading specialists. I am amazed that many in this community are so adamently against helping the most at risk students in order to provide "extras" for their students. 7th period is above and beyond the required program- it is a new program to PUSD, the students did fine before it was implemented.


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Posted by To Really?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:00 pm

"I wonder how that fact makes it a valid reason for the district to get rid of reading specialists."

It is as valid as when someone said that because only 20% of students used the 7th period, it justified its elimination.

There are about 5000 students in the high schools, and 20 percent of that would be about 1000. That is a lot more students than those using say elementary counselors. And if you ask and get an accurate answer, you will see that not many students use the reading specialist.

So if we are going only with how many students benefit... then everything should be looked at the same way


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Posted by To a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:04 pm

"Parents move to Pleasanton specifically for the good schools"

Exactly. People do not move here because there is help for struggling students. Those paying the high price of houses here do so because of the extra programs, the good high schools.

Yet PUSD has chosen to focus on the minority of struggling students at the expense of valuable programs that people who move to Pleasanton look for.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:31 pm

I went to school in a one room schoolhouse with 35,000 kids, no heat and a teacher who couldn't speak English and I turned out just fine.

While reading specialist or whatever may not seem like they benefit your kid because of course they are brilliant, it allows teachers to help your student more as those with reading difficulties need a lot more attention. So if the teacher has to spend a majority of time with those having problems, then there is not much time left for those without difficulties.

My point being, everything is not black and white.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:56 pm

So if we want to eliminate the programs/classes that only a few students do we may have to look at the high school classes that are offered. Should the high schools cut any class that less than 20% of the students take? Or even less than 5%? I'm pretty sure there are a lot of offered classes at the high schools that less than 5% of the students take. Should all of those be cut? Should we stop offering AP classes which only benefit those students with exceptional abilities in those areas, since we want to cut the help for those who struggle?

There is a great balancing act for school offering that is very difficult for people to see because most parents only have a few students go through a school. And a large number of parents have students with similar academic abilities. Until you have to live with children at both ends of the spectrum, please take a minute and think about other people. You child will do just fine if they don't get to go to Standford, Cal or wherever you have envisioned them going since they were born.


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Posted by To letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2010 at 11:54 pm

"Should the high schools cut any class that less than 20% of the students take?"

They are already doing that. They eliminated the 7 period because 20% of students use it.

And as for AP classes.... that lady who said she is from Livermore, went to Stanford, she must have all the goodies for her 5 year old blah blah proposed to eliminate AP classes. She said she did just fine without them, that we must punish the high schools in order to pass the parcel tax. Boy, that lady is as selfish as they come, and she is delusional if she thinks that is the way to rally support for fundraising or taxes. Her 5 year old will need help eventually because the concessions from this year will not pay for next, and we will see how much community support is gathered. We have to suffer in the high schools, why should we help the lower grades? A selfish attitude deserves the same selfish response.

Whether you like it or not, people do not move to a school district with lots of struggling students and programs for them. No, people pay high prices for properties because of good schools, with good programs. And "a reader" has argued for parcel taxes because of property values. Well, high property values do not exist in districts full of struggling students and programs for them. They exist in districts with valuable programs, look at Palo Alto - its parcel tax language talks about protecting valuable programs (not necessarily for struggling students).

I am only saying that someone above stated that eliminating the 7th period was justified because only 20% of students used it. Well, if that is the attitude, then let's look at everything and get rid of everything that is not used by many. That would be reading specialists, the barton program, you don't like that anymore that I like the fact that people advocate for the elimination of the 7 period and that crazy lady advocates for no AP classes - maybe she should move back to Livermore where there are no AP classes, she would be in the environment she seeks.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2010 at 8:05 am

There is more to life than property values.

Shouldn't we also be teaching our children that you have to learn to live within your budget and sometimes this comes down to making hard decisions between wants and needs? The district has to first provide the needs (i.e. those things required by law) and the remaining money has to be used to cover the wants - but not everyone is going to get their want.

A family can't just keep taking out loans and credit cards without it eventually catching up to them. Likewise, a community (or state or otherwise) can't just pass more taxes everytime there is a bump in the road.


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Posted by To letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2010 at 9:13 am

"A family can't just keep taking out loans and credit cards without it eventually catching up to them. Likewise, a community (or state or otherwise) can't just pass more taxes everytime there is a bump in the road."

I agree. That is why I oppose the fundraising. They are trying to raise money after having cut programs I value, and after making it very clear that even if I give the suggested 150 dollars per child, that such programs will not be back. I also believe that if a parcel tax is put on the ballot, it will be to finance the same items being financed by this year's concessions, so again, why should I support something like that?

And there has been no talk about freezing step and column. And they renewed the assistant superintendent's contracts without adjusting them for the reality of the financial situation. The list goes on.

As far as needs vs. wants, I disagree. Parents of struggling students need to also do their part. They have a responsibility to help their child and there are tutoring services available.

It should not all be about helping struggling students and letting the rest suffer because of it.

It should be a balance, and the resources should not all be geared towards helping struggling students because that is a minority of the population.

As far as being fiscally responsible, I agree with you 100%, but when we have elected officials who can't even be fiscally responsible in their personal affairs, how do we expect them to make sound decisions on behalf of our district?

And back to the original point of the thread: why would the district say that the current fundraising is in order to fund items as per the surveys? That is not an accurate statement. And why would they even bother parents with surveys they had no intention to take into account?


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2010 at 9:39 am

"As far as needs vs. wants, I disagree. Parents of struggling students need to also do their part. They have a responsibility to help their child and there are tutoring services available."

That's a fairly weak arguement. You could say the same thing about advanced students. There are local colleges that the students can take classes that do not need to be provided by the school. There are private music lessons, etc.

The school has only one task and that is to provide a minimum level of education as directed by the state. It only has to offer a basic level of classes and services to meet those requirements. (But nobody want to get to that level)

You have a valid opinion and right not to donate or pass a parcel tax. Just curious, what services are you referring to that have been cut for your child(ren)?


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Posted by To letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2010 at 11:48 am

"That's a fairly weak arguement. You could say the same thing about advanced students. There are local colleges that the students can take classes that do not need to be provided by the school. There are private music lessons, etc."

It is not a weak argument at all.

Advanced students do have activities outside of school financed by their parents, how do you think these kids get to be advanced? But they need to be challenged in school as well. Funding after all is per student, and should be used for all students not just those who need help.

Parents of struggling students need to do their part. There is so much schools can do, and we are not even getting enough funding these days for special education and all the programs for struggling kids.

An involved parent who truly cares will not rely on the school to get their child up to grade level.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I guess you arguments are just confusing then. The high schools offer both classes and assistance for those students who have difficulties as well as high level classes such as AP for those students who excel.

So I guess I don't see your point. Yes, all students (strong, weak or in between) can get assistance or extra things outside of the school setting. So we should stop helping those that are struggling? What should the schools provide instead?

What is it that you think the kids that aren't struggling are not getting that they need? That is the simple point of this. Obviously you feel there are thing students are missing because we have such things are reading specialists.



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Posted by Question
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 23, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Are AP classes held throughout the day in the high schools? With the elimination of 7th period, does that mean there will be no AP classes offered next year?


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2010 at 8:09 pm

AP classes are offered throughout the day, but limiting the students to 6 periods may reduce the number of AP classes they are able to take or may have to make decisions about taking AP or other classes (i.e. band, etc).


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